Monday, June 16, 2008

military serendipity

as i watched today's bbc coverage of the 5 british soldiers killed in combat in afghanistan in as many days, i had trouble with the images of the 5 coffins draped in the union jack being unloaded from a plane.

i don't know if i think things happen for a reason. on most days, i would say no. but these days, i tend to agree with the soldier when he thinks they do.

he left the army in early 2008 and has a few more months to go before he is a civilian. and he just found out that his regiment will be deployed to afghanistan shortly after he is out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

weather karma

i was having a thought on my run today. i was running on the road because i get these shin splint-type pains if i run on hard surfaces like sidewalks and i was noticing how wide the roads are here, but how drivers are still noticeably nervous when i am running on their turf.

this brought me around to some other thoughts i have been having lately - that our culture is so afraid of so many things happening. or, possibly, that companies, corporations, or any type of authority does not want to be held responsible for anything and then push safety and security down our throats. thank you, litigation.

so we wear helmets, reflective running jackets, and now we can't eat tomatoes. it just seems a bit obsessive. perhaps i feel this way because i have been living in a place where the options are a) go for a run on the road and risk getting hit by one of the cars that regularly speed by you on narrow roads, potentially rabid dog bites, or twisting an ankle on uneven surfaces or b) stay at home. staying at home gets old after a few weeks.

not that i do not think that any of these precautions are bad ideas. bike helmets keep your skull intact, reflective jackets allow you to have a less worrisome run, and salmonella is no fun (although the chances of dying from salmonella are low and it seems a bit alarmist to pull my favourite vegetable off the shelves after a sort of warning that they might be responsible for a salmonella 'outbreak').

in a way, this is linked to the craze about 'going green' and again, i believe some of the principles behind it, but i struggle with the idea that eating organic is 'going green.' actually, i downright disagree. growing things organically is not better for our environment, but i will save that for another post.

during these running thoughts when i was thinking, 'calgary, what a city of wimps!' it began to pour rain and i was thinking, 'i love running in the rain.' and then it hailed on me. and hail hurts! like lots of tiny bee stings all over your exposed skin, including the sensitive skin of the neck, ouch! i think that is what you call weather karma.

and i hope that weather karma does not rear its ugly head on me next time i try to be healthy, active, and non-wimpy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

simple development wisdom

'you can't donate people out of poverty.'

and that is, pretty much, why foreign aid won't work. sorry fans of the .7% gdp to foreign aid (of which i used to be), i just don't think it will work. it may have paid my salary and pay my salary again in the future. but i no longer have faith it will work.

thanks, paul polak and the hour with george stroumboulopoulos.

update, schmupdate

i have been home nearly 2 weeks and have been relaxing and dealing with allergies. i haven't felt compelled to update so i will give you a recap that will probably not be very exciting to read, but will make me feel less guilty when i check my blogomatic and bore myself with my own lack of news.

i am sad that the hockey night in canada theme song is going to go to tsn/ctv now. it goes hand-in-hand with the cbc and cherry's antics for me. but what was cbc thinking? i am pretty sure they can afford the $500 per play.

that wasn't much of an update. i will try again.

the soldier and i have a flat to move into in germany, which is rather exciting and makes things feel more 'real' even though i keep getting ahead of myself by thinking about the autumn and future jobs, houses, and life back in calgary.

but yay for a new nest! i wonder how you say 'nest' in german?

back to those allergies - they are kicking me in the ass. i am not sure if it is allergies or a cold, but i am sleeping way too much, i wake up with headaches, and my eyes are itchy far too often. blech.

i have eaten more red meat in the past few days than in the past 6 months, but i have come to expect (and anticipate) that. i loves me some alberta beef. i also love red wine and my mom's red wine dispenser (otherwise known as a box of wine conveniently placed so you simply place your glass under the spout and voila!).

it seems when you leave your job, people seem to think you are rather valuable, but i guess that happens anywhere in any field. or so i am told. but no bother, i like the compliments and the requests for my cv.

speaking of my cv, i met with a recruiter and i am feeling positive (for once!) about my career. nothing concrete, just a good meeting full of good ideas.

ordering at starbucks is STRESSFUL. here is what i want - a latte, the medium size, with skim milk, and maybe, just maybe, a fancy flavour shot or a fancy drink like a caramel macchiato (but not very sweet and none of the no-sugar syrup). but you need to be able to say that in the fancy coffee shop lingo in a matter of seconds. who can do that?! well, probably you. but i am used to putting in my order at nairobi java house and just crossing my fingers that they get it right and enjoying whatever shows up on the counter. often, to get the drink how you want it, it takes a short diatribe and a few baseball hand signals, but i am little out of the loop.

the mass consumption and marketing in this place is also stressful. not to mention the serious leaps in technology that make me feel like an 80 year old (maybe even 90 year old) who has lived in a home for entire technology revolution. in saskatchewan (ok, maybe a stereotype, but i would imagine that if you lived in a home in saskatchewan, it might be even less technologically current).

i am learning a lot about wedding dresses and weddings. i am glad i get to be a spectator at this one (well, an active chief bridesmaid spectator) so i can learn the ropes.

other than that, adjusting is and will be tough, i miss parts of life in africa, but i am excited for a lot of upcoming things and nothing beats that.

Monday, June 02, 2008

stuff you notice

  • canadians really are friendly, including the customs guys who i thought were going to take away my harrods duty free or charge me tax on the items i had shipped, but no, they were very friendly - tattoos, scary black gloves and all. the passport office staff earn an honourable mention for their friendliness and for bending the rules for my 'unique situation.'
  • the driving skills around these parts are sub par compared to those of nairobi. sure, people here know the road rules and tend to obey them, but they follow too closely and need really big lanes because they insist on meandering between lanes, across lanes, and where ever they please. i guess you can forgive them considering they aren't used to roads filled with hazards such as potholes that will swallow you, potential carjackers, and laneless roads. sounds chaotic, but drivers are much better at manouvering their vehicles around deathtraps and/or traffic in kenya. (following road rules is another thing completely and canada wins that one)
  • mobile phone companies in canada are stupid and i wish they would get with the european and african times with sim cards and innovation
  • all the choice is overwhelming
  • a rainy day in calgary is better than a rainy day in nairobi
  • so much tv to watch, so few hours in a day
  • calgary has a distinct smell and you notice it when you land in the airport, it is nice. clean. dry.
  • i keep forgetting that cold water runs out of the tap and man, is it cold. but the hot water is delicious, simply delicious.
  • blueberries are still my favourite berry
  • we keep leaving our front door open when we go out. i guess the stereotype is true. and it is so nice that we can do that (not that we do all the time, but having options is nice)
  • hockey and snow in june? oh yeah.

adjusting back to north american life is going to have its challenges and this visit home has been the first time that i have been worried about them, but i suppose since it is on the horizon, worry is warranted.